CU Checking Is Largely Fee-Free

CUs are far more likely than banks to offer free checking.

December 31, 2010
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Credit unions are far more likely than banks to offer free checking. And when credit unions do charge a monthly maintenance fee, it’s about half of what banks charge, according to CUNA’s 2010-2011 Credit Union Fees Survey Report.

Roughly 80% of credit unions offering checking accounts provide at least one option with no minimum balance requirement and no maintenance or activity fees, compared to only 64% of banks.

Noninterest-bearing accounts are more prevalent than interest-bearing accounts—73% vs. 60%.

The prevalence of interest-bearing checking generally increases with asset size. Eighty-five percent of credit unions with $200 million or more in assets offer interest-bearing accounts.

Half of credit unions offering noninterest-bearing accounts provide them free of charge. Likewise, among those offering interest-bearing accounts, 31% do so at no cost.

Other findings:

  • About one-third (37%) of credit unions that offer noninterest-bearing checking accounts require a minimum balance. The median minimum balance to open the account is $25.
  • Overall, 17% of credit unions charge monthly maintenance fees on noninterest-bearing checking accounts. While 6% do so regardless of the account balance, 11% charge a monthly maintenance fee only if the account falls below a minimum balance.
  • Among credit unions in which the monthly maintenance fee is avoidable, the most common minimum balance amount is $100.
  • The median minimum balance to open interest-bearing checking accounts is $50.
  • About 40% of credit unions charge monthly maintenance fees on their interest-bearing checking accounts. Just 6% charge a monthly fee regardless of the account balance; 36% charge only when the balance falls below a minimum requirement.
  • Credit unions hold a clear advantage over banks when it comes to interest-bearing checking. Virtually all banks (96%) charge a monthly fee for these accounts.
  • Half of credit unions offer business checking, 40% of which require a minimum balance to open the account. The median minimum balance is $50.

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